Following the lead of fellow New England states, Rhode Island is poised to be the final state in the region to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples after the state Senate voted to approve a marriage equality bill on April 17, 2013.
The initial version of the bill passed through the House of Representatives in January, where it received strong support and passed by a vote of 51 to 19. The amended version of the bill will need to pass through the House once more before the bill can become state law. Although the bill remains controversial among groups such as the Rhode Island Catholic Conference and the National Organization for Marriage, the Senate Republican Caucus has expressed unanimous support for the bill.
If the bill becomes law, Rhode Island would join Iowa, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Washington, D.C., and Maryland to become the 10th state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage. Other states, such as Nevada, are in the process of repealing bans on gay marriage and drafting similar bills to support rights for same-sex couples.